SURESH RAMPHUL

Many people have been voicing their grievances about the way the government has dealt with COVID-19, the Wakashio disaster, political nominations, the arrogance of some members of the government and that of the Prime Minister himself.

Criticisms from the public are worth taking into consideration because they reflect the mood of a good part of the population.  It would be a big mistake on the part of the government to ignore this response.

But is “lev pake ale” a solution?

Aren’t people committing an error of judgement in demanding the government’s resignation?  Do they realize that General Elections would be absorbing a lot of money?  Can we afford it, given the present economic situation of Mauritius in the wake of the pandemic?  Are we really prepared when so many of our citizens are facing unemployment problems?  The timing isn’t right for elections.

Who says that another government will be better than the present one or that a coalition of Opposition parties will last for a whole five years?  Who says there will be a new way of doing politics?  During electoral campaigns, they all tell us they’ll do things differently and change our life for the better but once they’re in Parliament, their language changes.  Will a new government put an end to political nominations?  Will a new government finish once and for all with the frequent “magouilles” taking place in the MBC?  Will news on television improve drastically?  Will drugs in the public and in schools disappear overnight?  Will it practice transparency and accountability?  What guarantee do we have that we’ll have fairness, justice, equity and meritocracy?  None of our governments has so far had clean hands.  History bears testimony to this.

Since the beginning, all governments have been fooling us with dozens of promises and last-minute electoral bribes.  They’ve all been assuring us that they’ll work in our interest but once in power, we’ve seen how they put their own interest and their own people first.

Who says that with a new government, there’ll no longer be “roder bout” and opportunists like we have today?  We risk finding ourselves in the same situation as the one in which we’re now.  As the saying goes sap dan karay tom dan dife.

With General Elections, people’s power is limited to voting day but if this government is kept in place, their power will be more permanent in the sense that they can collectively raise their voices each time the government turns from its proper course.

And what happens if we get the same MSM as government again?

Maintaining pressure

Maintaining pressure on this government till it understands that they can’t take us for granted is what is essential.  They need to

• Change their strategies.

• Stop taking us for fools.

• Stop their double language.

• Stop over-using the MBC for propaganda purposes.

• Get rid of this bad habit of nominating near and dear ones to important posts.  What qualities have X or Y got that other citizens haven’t got?

• Communicate with the public.  They need to understand that there’s a difference between informing and communicating.

• Stop authoritarian attitudes.

• Do more for the poor.

• Cultivate leadership qualities.

• Be closer to, and maintain regular contact with, the public.

• Come forward and explain to us why they are nominating such and such a person to a post and not impose him or her on us.

• Accept criticism, especially if it is justified.

• Ensure that justice for the lowliest is the same as justice for the highest.

• Listen to what people have to say and take short-term and long-term corrective measures.

This government is not ideal.  Since we’ve no guarantee that our life will improve under another government, let’s make do with this one.  The protests against their repressive or arrogant manners have started to take shape and must continue to grow.  Let people point out the government’s contradictions, and send strong signals that they’re not willing to tolerate their abuses.  Politicians are public servants and they must know their limits.  What has the younger generation of parliamentarians   contributed to the advancement of our island so far?  People need answers.

Changing this government isn’t the answer.  It doesn’t mean much to me.  But if under pressure and on the strength of sound, constructive criticisms and suggestions we can reform it and make it address its shortcomings, it would be something. This is how I see the concept of power to the people. If the government still fails to change, it would have itself to blame in case of some form of revolution.